Smarter Regulation – Alcohol Licensing in an Adjacent Licensed Pavement Area

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Statement made by Chris Philp, The Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire

The Government is today launching a consultation on measures that would make it easier for licensed premises to sell alcohol for consumption in an adjacent licensed pavement area. This consultation aligns with the Government’s commitment to support businesses and our broader work on smarter regulation.

The Licensing Act 2003 allows premises licence holders to sell alcohol for consumption on site (‘on-sales’), off site (‘off-sales’) or both. The holder of an on-sales only licence can subsequently apply to their Licensing Authority for a variation if they wish to add off-sales to their licence.

To provide vital support to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary provisions in the Business and Planning Act 2020 (the 2020 Act) enabled on-sales only premises licence holders to automatically also do off-sales without any need to amend their licence, thus saving these businesses time and money.

The 2020 Act also introduced changes to the process for obtaining pavement licences, which are licences granted by the local authority that allow the licence-holder to place removable furniture over certain highways adjacent to the premises. The 2020 Act streamlined the process to allow businesses to secure pavement licences quickly.

The measures in the 2020 Act were designed to support businesses and the specific provisions referenced above, when taken together, meant that pubs and restaurants were able to serve alcohol outside in the area covered by any pavement licence that they held.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 has made permanent the provisions set out in the 2020 Act relating to pavement licensing, but the future of the off-sales element has not yet been decided and the provision is due to lapse in March 2025.

The Government remains committed to supporting the hospitality sector whilst it faces ongoing financial challenges. In September 2023, we made it clear that the Government’s ultimate goal is to create a unified consent regime that includes licensing consent for the consumption and sale of alcohol in the outside pavement area before the provision lapses next year. As such, we have identified three options to consult on that would enable premises to continue to sell alcohol for consumption in a licensed pavement area with ease, whilst ensuring that licensing authorities and local residents continue to have a say about what happens in their area.

  • Option 1: Make current arrangements – as set out in the Business and Planning Act 2020 – permanent.
  • Option 2: Amend the Licensing Act to extend the definition of on-sales so that it includes consumption in a licenced pavement area.
  • Option 3: Amend the Licensing Act to permit on-sales only premises licence holders the right to make off-sales to any area for which there is a pavement licence.

Alongside new options that would make it easier for business to do off-sales, we have also included the option of making the 2020 Act off-sales easement permanent. All three options would require an amendment to legislation. As these would represent deregulatory measures, we believe that a Legislative Reform Order – made under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 – would be a suitable vehicle for making such an amendment.

The consultation will run for eight weeks and the Government will publish its response afterwards. A copy of the consultation and related impact assessment will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and published on Gov.UK.

The Home Office would be grateful if you could take the time to respond to this consultation.

The consultation will last for 8 weeks, as such it will close at 23.59 on 11 July.

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